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Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Always Loved The Way She Said Mamuwalde...

I wanted to write this post last week, but alas, your favorite slacker was caught doing what she does best.

Vonetta McGee passed away July 9th, and hearing the news made me lament on not just her, but many Black actresses in the 70's. People like her, Judy Pace, Rosalind Cash, naturally beautiful, stylish, and full of vibrancy, only to be treated practically like furniture for the most part.

Vonetta was one that actually got to be featured in a way that required real acting, even though her main films were considered "Blaxploitation". Her breakout was in "Blacula", as the object of Blacula's affection. Even though dude wore a cape and was a vampire, she saw beneath that for the sexy, intelligent, manly piece of lovely chocolate that he was....when she called his name "Mamuwalde" she said it with such sweetness and reverence, and it made a ridiculous film less ridiculous.

She was in "Shaft in Africa", "Hammer", "Detroit 9000", and "The Eiger Sanction" with Clint Eastwood, with the very tragic name of "Jemima". It was major for a Black actress to make a crossover like that back then....she could have been a Zoe Saldana today if this were her time. She also did a tremendous amount of television, but doesn't have any credits since 1998.

One film I remember in particular was a film called "Thomasine And Bushrod", which was kinda sorta like a Black version of Bonnie and Clyde in the old west. It was directed by Gordon Parks Jr., who also directed "Superfly". It was really a thin film, filled in with an inordinate amount of montages, but she was something to look at. She co-starred with her real life lover, Max Julian (The Mack), who talked to her like a pimp to his 'ho. He was kinda scary with that, and every time I've seen that film I could truly imagine their relationship being like that in real life. I seem to have read somewhere that she never married, and after being with Max Julian, it isn't hard to process why.

But I digress....peaceful journey, Vonetta; your memory will always be kept alive here and the projects I work on, beautiful one.

The trailer from Blacula:

Sorry, I couldn't find a trailer of Thomasine And Bushrod, but here is a clip from the film:


Kimberly Renee said...

Nice tribute to a deserving woman.

msladyDeborah said...

May she rest in peace.

Ash said...

She was so pretty in Blacula! RIP

Marvalus said...

Very good post, IW...

She is one of the few actors that made me pause when I saw them. So breathtakingly beautiful...

May she rest in peace...

Invisible Woman said...

@khay: thanks :-)

@mslady and @ash: agreed.

@marvalus: thanks girl--don't be such a stranger!

Chele Belle said...

I saw T&B back in the late 70s at a grindhouse theater in downtown Louisville. I clearly remember the shock that went through me when her character was killed. I need to see it again to remember the way T&B's relationship was played...all I seem to conjure up is their savage death.

Invisible Woman said...

@chele belle: yeah, it really was kinda of a rip of bonnie and clyde...right to the end. hopefully anyone who wants to see it won't read these spoiler comments, lol

i have to rewatch a lot of Black films, cause i saw them when i was really too young to get everything.

Anonymous said...

Apparently her relationship with Max did not sour her on men or marriage. I was pleasantly surprised to learn while reading about her passing that she was married to Carl Lumbly for quite some time and that they had a son. What a cool couple they must have been.

Invisible Woman said...

@laraineday She was married to Carl Lumbly? Shows how much I know...he is so beautiful and manly! What a fantastic looking child they must have made---thanks so much for the info :-)

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